Sax or Clarinet?  

The Clarinet usually looses out to the Sax these days. Here are a few of the reasons why:


The Saxophone in slightly easier to learn than the clarinet. The 'second register' thumb key on a sax takes you up an octave - but on the clarinet it takes you up an octave & a fifth. So on the clarinet, you have to get used to a different set on notes after pressing the thumb key (though you get a better range).

The embouchure is more important to get accurate on a clarinet. The sax is a little more forgiving since badly blown notes on a clarinet are more liable to squeak - & even if you do produce something you didn't quite intend - on a saxophone it can still sound cool - in fact sometimes it sounds better than what you meant to play!

close up soprano sax from behind: Sax Lessons, Newburgh, Fife
soprano sax

The clarinet requires you to cover the holes precisely with your fingers. A tiny leak = a mighty squeek.The sax has hinged pads that do the sealing of the holes for you, so accuracy is not as critical.

close up soprano sax from below: Soprano Saxophone Lessons, Newburgh, Fife

soprano sax

The Sax is more versatile than the clarinet in modern music. The sax is louder! & far easier to mic up. The sax is easier to tune. If you need to sharpen a clarinet & the mouthpiece is already fully 'home' all you can do is get a hack saw out to cut a bit off, on the sax you just push the mouthpiece further down the cork on the crook.

It's easier to 'bend' notes on a sax. In both cases this is easiest with a 'shorter tube' - without many fingers down as in the top of each register.

Close up clarinet: Clarinet lessons , Newburgh, Fife
For the Clarinet:
Dave Playing clarinet on stage with Floozie Soo. Ken Barrett on Guitar & Vocals in the background: Come along to our next gig...

It's cheaper! (just)

  It has one of the widest ranges of any mono-tone instrument with over 3 octaves.  
  On it's own terms, it is an excellent instrument with a wonderfully pure sound. It's almost as versatile as the sax & is a unique player in New Orleans Jazz, Klezmer music, Classical & more.  
James at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, Oct 2005 with Floozie Soo  
  Being a harder instrument to learn, someone who can play clarinet can move with ease to the saxophone. This is not so easy the other way round.  
  A Sax player who has mastered the clarinet first will be a more rounded player having had a more disciplined learning experience.  
  Which Sax?  
Close up soprano sax keys: Sax lessons, Newburgh, Fife With 4 different Saxes to choose from, the best advice is to go for the one which excites you most. The Soprano is fantastically cool, but the Alto & Tenor are more broad ranging in what you can do with them. The Baritone - a monster of a sax, is pretty damn cool too, but alto damn expensive, heavy & the least versatile for general playing.  
Soprano sax: Sax lessons, Newburgh, Fife
Soprano Highest register sax (pictured left).Jan Garbarek's first choice. Can be straight or have the classic sax shape. The smallest sax
Alto Medium - high register. Charlie Parker's sax, though he also played tenor. Great universal instrument.
Tenor John Coltrane's favorite sax - though he started off on the alto. Great universal instrument
Baritone Specialist Sax for those real fruity low notes that make your bones shake.The largest sax.
Remember that it's relatively easy to swap from one to another. The fingering is almost identical on all the saxes. Some changes in your embouchure and a new way of holding the instrument are all that need be faced.
Only a few years ago, children were often presented with a clarinet to start on if they want to learn the saxophone as a sax was twice the price. Prices now though are very similar, which is great coz many kids just didn't dig their clarinet - and gave up.

Weavers Hall, Bank Close, Newburgh, Fife
KY14 6EG

email: james

mobile: 07970 744986
landline:01337 842434

Dave J Ford peering through  ice sculpture